The title explains it all: Philadelphia Phillies rookie starting pitcher Ethan Martin makes his third career start tonight against his hometown team that he grew up watching, the Atlanta Braves. One player that Martin won’t have to face tonight is Braves second baseman Dan Uggla who is on the 15 day disabled list for eye surgery.
Coincidentally, Martin made his major league debut two starts ago against these same Atlanta Braves. In that game it looked like Martin was going to have a great outing as his fastball was getting up in the upper 90’s. But he got into some trouble in the fifth inning, giving up back to back home runs that night. That night will forever be a learning moment for Martin and his official welcome to the big leagues.
In that game, Martin pitched 4 1/3 innings, gave up eight hits, six earned runs, walked three, and struck out six. Definitely expect a different pitching performance from him tonight against the Braves. As a rookie pitcher it is all about making adjustments and that is what Martin did. On August 8th, Martin went up against the Chicago Cubs and looked like a totally different pitcher. Let’s not forget the Cubs do not have as strong of a lineup as the Braves do, but he was opposed by Cubs’ ace Jeff Samardzija so he had to bring his A game for the Phillies win.
On that day, the Phillies’ offense woke up and tagged Samardzija for a couple of homers and ten runs. On the other hand, Ethan Martin did his part, frustrating Cubs hitters and holding them to one run. That would be Martin’s first win as a major league pitcher as the Phillies won 12-1. Martin’s pitching line read that he gave up four hits, one earned run, only walked three, and struck out four Cubs hitters over five innings of work.
We saw Martin get better from his start against the Braves and used what he learned against the Cubs. But there is a different test tonight, in that this is the second go around for Martin against this same Braves lineup. What will he do differently? How will the Braves hitters approach Martin? We all know that the Braves are fastball hitters so if Martin throws the fastball early and often, I expect the Braves to pounce on him early. That could mean a possible early exit for Martin.
But if Martin mixes up his pitches and keeps the Braves hitters off balance, I expect him to pitch deeper into tonight’s game. I expect Martin to throw six innings tonight, give up six hits, three earned runs, walk three, and strike out four Braves hitters. If he does that or better, expect the Phillies to win.
This could possibly be Martin’s last outing with the Phillies as Jonathan Pettibone and Roy Halladay are both making rehab starts within the Phillies minor league system. If this is Martin’s last game why not go out and pitch a great game and take down your hometown team and also give the Phillies a series win after the Braves swept them in the beginning of August.